Our CEO Rachel Travers rounds up all the latest Amaze news
This month, I am excited to introduce you to our new-look newsletter. For those of you who have been used to getting a printed or PDF copy, I hope you won’t be disappointed and will understand why we have had to take the difficult decision to only continue to produce our newsletter electronically.
We know how important it is for families with children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities to get accurate and timely information, and to feel part of a local community of parent carers. So we are committed to producing what we hope will be a good ‘round-up’ of the latest news and information for your area, as well as interesting features about local families and projects and tips for you in your caring role. We are producing two tailored versions – one if you live in East Sussex and one for Brighton and Hove families.
Getting information via an online newsletter will not be everyone’s bag, so we have also been developing other resources for local families. We’re adding lots of short videos to our YouTube channel (thanks to Connor – a Media graduate on loan to us) – take a look at this SENDIASS explains video on ‘What to do if you’re worried about your child in school’ to get a taste of more to come.
We know many families still want to be able to get information, advice and support by talking to a trained advisor either over the phone or in person. The SENDIASS Helpline has been especially busy this autumn and, as we can only afford a few staff to be on the phones each day, it often means people are waiting a few days before we call you back. I apologise for this and we are going to be testing out more ways we can try to get through more calls more quickly, without losing any of our focus on providing quality advice.
Each edition of our new newsletter will also give an update about the important work of the two local parent carer forums, and how you can get more involved.
- The Brighton and Hove PaCC have been incredibly busy this term, hearing from many families who have experienced significant problems with the changes to Home to School Transport.
- We are delighted to be supporting the new East Sussex Parent Carer Forum (ESPCF) who will be inviting members to join them in the coming months. See: https://amazesussex.org.uk/amaze_news/new-parent-carer-forum-for-east-sussex/
As well as providing services locally in Sussex, Amaze continues to try to influence national policy and practice by being a member of both the national Disabled Children’s Partnership (DCP) and the Council for Disabled Children (CDC). We fed into the recent Education Select Committee SEND inquiry, which was finally published at the end of October. Robert Halfon (Chair of Committee) said “Many parents face a titanic struggle just to try and ensure their child gets access to the right support.” Steve Haines (NDCS) says “It shows the system for disabled children is completely broken.” Read the report summary here: https://bit.ly/2Jdc4vk
Last week, some parent carers from East Sussex and I attended a CDC event in London (with Christine Lenehan and officers from the Department for Education) to feed into the planning for the SEND Review. The timescale has been pushed back a bit due to the election but they reassured us that this would go ahead in some shape or form whichever party wins, given the acknowledged level of crisis in the current system.
As a charity, we have to keep out of the party politics that come with an election, but we encourage you to email your local candidates standing in next month’s general election, to ask if they can pledge their support and help campaign for more services and support for disabled children. This link helps you do this easily: https://support.disabledchildrenspartnership.org.uk/en-gb/votesend-make-disabled-children-priority-general-election
On a lighter note, I am busy planning the Amaze Annual General Meeting (AGM), which we are holding for the first time at the International Lawn Tennis Centre in Eastbourne to highlight our work with families across East Sussex and to celebrate, in particular, the fantastic work of the Eastbourne Amazing Futures groups. The AGM will include a presentation by the young people involved in the groups, and there will be time to find out more over a drink, snack and a festive activity. It you would like to become a member of Amaze and come along then please email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you can’t make it but would like to read more about what our charity has been doing during 2018/19 please read our new Impact Report.
Finally, I would love to hear your feedback and ideas for what you would like to read about in future editions of this newsletter. You can send this in via our newsletter survey
Sending you all strength, resilience and happiness for the festive season.
Rachel Travers, Amaze CEO